The role of non-declining amphibian species as alternative hosts for Batrachochytrium dendrobatidis in an amphibian community

Stockwell, Michelle P., Bower, Deborah S., Clulow, John, and Mahony, Michael J. (2016) The role of non-declining amphibian species as alternative hosts for Batrachochytrium dendrobatidis in an amphibian community. Wildlife Research, 43 (4). pp. 341-347.

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Context Pathogens with reservoir hosts have been responsible for most disease-induced wildlife extinctions because the decline of susceptible hosts does not cause the decline of the pathogen. The existence of reservoirs for Batrachochytrium dendrobatidis limits population recovery and conservation actions for threatened amphibians. As such, the effect of reservoirs on disease risk within host community assemblages needs to be considered, but rarely is.

Aims In this study we aimed to determine if amphibian species co-occurring with the green and golden bell frog Litoria aurea, a declining species susceptible to B. dendrobatidis, act as alternate hosts.

Methods We quantified B. dendrobatidis infection levels, sub-lethal effects on body condition and terminal signs of disease in amphibian communities on Kooragang Island and Sydney Olympic Park in New South Wales, Australia, where two of the largest remaining L. aurea populations persist.

Key results We found L. aurea carried infections at a similar prevalence (6-38%) to alternate species. Infection loads ranged widely (0.01-11107.3 zoospore equivalents) and L. aurea differed from only one alternate host species (higher median load in Litoria fallax) at one site. There were no terminal or sub-lethal signs of disease in any species co-occurring with L. aurea.

Conclusion Our results suggest that co-occurring species are acting as alternate hosts to L. aurea and whether their presence dilutes or amplifies B. dendrobatidis in the community is a priority for future research.

Implications For L. aurea and many other susceptible species, confirming the existence of reservoir hosts and understanding their role in community disease dynamics will be important for optimising the outcomes of threat mitigation and habitat creation initiatives for their long-term conservation.

Item ID: 51109
Item Type: Article (Research - C1)
ISSN: 1448-5494
Keywords: chytridiomycosis, frog, disease, body-condition, infection
Date Deposited: 11 Oct 2017 07:32
FoR Codes: 41 ENVIRONMENTAL SCIENCES > 4104 Environmental management > 410401 Conservation and biodiversity @ 50%
31 BIOLOGICAL SCIENCES > 3107 Microbiology > 310703 Microbial ecology @ 50%
SEO Codes: 96 ENVIRONMENT > 9604 Control of Pests, Diseases and Exotic Species > 960406 Control of Pests, Diseases and Exotic Species in Fresh, Ground and Surface Water Environments @ 50%
96 ENVIRONMENT > 9608 Flora, Fauna and Biodiversity > 960807 Fresh, Ground and Surface Water Flora, Fauna and Biodiversity @ 50%
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